Shelagh Fogarty 1pm - 4pm
Donald Trump asked China to help him win 2020 election, Bolton claims
17 June 2020, 23:18
Donald Trump pleaded with China to buy more US farm products to help his chances of re-election, his former former national security adviser John Bolton has claimed.
The new claims have been made inside Bolton's new book, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir.
In it, Mr Bolton says that during a meeting in 2019, Trump told Xi that Democrats were "hostile to China", before launching into conversation about the 2020 election.
Mr Bolton said: "He then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming US presidential election, alluding to China's economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he'd win.
"He stressed the importance of farmers, and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome."
The former security advisor said this was one of many incidents which"formed a pattern of fundamentally unacceptable behaviour that eroded the very legitimacy of the presidency".
In the book - which is due to be released next week - Mr Bolton also said Trump asked why the US was sanctioning China over it treatment of Uighurs.
China suspects Uighurs, who are predominantly Muslim and culturally and ethnically distinct from the majority Han Chinese population, of harbouring separatist tendencies.
In recent years, China has dramatically escalated its campaign against them by detaining more than one million people in internment camps and prisons, which China calls vocational training centres.
"At the opening dinner of the Osaka G20 meeting, with only interpreters present, Mr Xi explained to Mr Trump why he was basically building concentration camps in Xinjiang," Mr Bolton wrote.
"According to our interpreter, Mr Trump said that Mr Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which he thought was exactly the right thing to do. "
Among other claims in the book include an incident where a British official refer to the UK as a nuclear power, to which Trump responded: "Oh, are you a nuclear power?"
The UK has had a nuclear arsenal for a number of years, and Mr Bolton said Trump's comment "was not intended as a joke".
Trump also allegedly asked if Finland was a part of Russia.
According to excerpts printed in the Washington Post, Mr Bolton also claims Trump said invading Venezuela would be "cool" and that he thought it was "really part of the United States."
The White House has not yet responded to the allegations made in Mr Bolton's upcoming book.
However, the Trump administration has sued to try to delay publication, saying it contains classified information.
In the book, Mr Bolton describes every Trump decision as being guided by concerns for his own re-election, a claim that evokes the scandal that sparked Mr Trump's impeachment last year.
Mr Trump's decision to withhold military assistance to Ukraine until it agreed to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, then a 2020 front-runner and now the presumptive Democratic nominee, led the House to charge Mr Trump was abusing his power.
The aid was ultimately released once the hold-up became public.
The Republican-controlled Senate ultimately acquitted the president on that count and a count of obstructing Congress's investigation of the incident.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Wednesday that he attended a meeting between Mr Trump and Mr Xi at the Group of 20 nations in Osaka, but he never heard Mr Trump pleading with Mr Xi to buy more agricultural products to ensure he would win re-election.
Mr Lighthizer spoke at a Senate hearing on trade issues and was asked about Mr Bolton's recollection of events.
"Absolutely untrue. Never happened. I was there. I have no recollection of that ever happening. I don't believe it's true. I don't believe it ever happened," Mr Lighthizer said. "Would I recollect something as crazy as that? Of course, I would recollect it."